The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Archive for March 2nd, 2011

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Vaccines!

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 2, 2011

In a bit of good news, it seems the SCOTUS has produced a pretty strong science & reason-based ruling on the issue of vaccinations and lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers.  This is also, indirectly yet very importantly, a big blow to the anti-vaccination movement

Supreme Court rules for vaccine makers on lawsuits

The Supreme Court ruled that federal law shields vaccine makers from product-liability lawsuits in state court seeking damages for a child’s injuries or death from a vaccine’s side effects.

The high court on Tuesday ruled for Wyeth, which is now owned by Pfizer Inc, in a lawsuit brought by the parents of Hannah Bruesewitz, who suffered seizures as an infant after her third dose of a diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine in 1992.

Pfizer and other vaccine makers had argued that a Supreme Court ruling for the plaintiffs could open the door to a flood of lawsuits — many by families who believe vaccines cause autism — and threaten the supply of childhood vaccines. … [emphasis added]

That last point is a major win for the pro-vaccine team, folks.  That’s because if the SCOTUS had ruled differently, you can bet your bottom dollar that Jenny McCarthy, Andrew Wakefield, and their legions of true-believing followers within the anti-vax movement would have been clogging up the courts for years (or decades, even) with frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit lamenting about how “vaccines caused my kid’s autism” or “the jabs took my little Johnny’s soul away” or similar garbage (because, yes, some people actually believe that crap).  And since I am on the topic of mentioning frivolous lawsuits, allow me to reference the SCOTUS ruling on that point…

“Vaccine manufacturers fund from their sales an informal, efficient compensation program for vaccine injuries; in exchange they avoid costly tort litigation and the occasional disproportionate jury verdict. Congress enacted this deal to coax manufacturers back into the vaccine market,” [Justice] Scalia said.

In short, if the vaccine manufacturers didn’t have at least some kind of protection against lawsuits, they would get out of the (not-very-profitable) vaccine business altogether, with the resulting loss of widespread vaccination & herd immunity being highly detrimental to society.  Of course, one reason why the anti-vaxxers would have liked to have seen this SCOTUS ruling go the other way is because then it would have opened the door to a tsunami of frivolous lawsuits, which then would have led to many vaccine manufacturers giving up the business, which would lead to lower vaccination rates…

which would kill a lot of people. But hey, the anti-vax goons would feel pretty good about that, wouldn’t they, because then at least those “evil vaccines” weren’t around any more, right?

Of course, the response from the anti-vax loons is all-too-predictable.  I’m going to use my “amazing psychic powers” and guess that it’s going to be something along these lines:

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